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The Newest Flavor of Computing: Raspberry Pi

My friend Carlos recommended that I do an article on Raspberry Pi, which, I am ashamed to say, I had not heard of before he mentioned it.  But now that I’ve learned about it, I’m just amazed by it.  Here is the Raspberry Pi module:

It is described by it’s creator as a credit card sized computer module that is powered by a micro USB port (probably the same one that you use to charge your cell phone) with inputs for a keyboard and a mouse and an HDMI output for a monitor, as well as an SD card slot for running the Linux-based OS.  It has 512 megs of RAM and retails for about $35. 

On the website (www.raspberrypi.org) you can watch a cute cartoon video about the inspiration for and creation of Raspberry Pi.  It begins with my generation in the eighties (shown in the video as the stone ages) and the way that the Apple II computers sparked our imagination and love of computers.  The folks at Raspberry Pi thought that computers had become so common place that the awe of them that we felt has gone by the wayside with kids, so they created this small, inexpensive computing module to reignite that wonder and get kids interested in programming.

One of things that you can buy on their website under the listing of “swag” is a Raspberry Pi starter kit for around $125.  The kit contains the Raspberry Pi model B, a power adapter, an HDMI cable, a micro USB cable, an optical mouse, a keyboard, a micro SD with the “Noobs” starter OS on it and a micro SD adapter and your choice of “Pibow” case, some of which are really cute.

People are taking these things and turning them into all kinds of cool projects, including robots, music players, video game systems (including NES and Super Nintendo emulators), as well as controllers for cameras and lighting units.

On their website, you can find information about the Raspberry Pi, links to purchase the unit and the “swag” like the starter kit above, community posts, forums, and a resource section giving you information to teach and to learn as well as projects that you can do with the Pi unit.  My personal favorite is the “screaming jelly baby”, an utterly useless but fun looking project.  It reminds me a little of the guy who created the robot hand in a box that does just one thing when you activate it… it turns itself off.

So go… get yourself a piece of Raspberry Pi… teach, learn, and most of all HAVE FUN!

~ Randal Schaffer